Signs of Meth Use...



What are the signs and symptoms of Methamphetamine use?


 In large doses, methamphetamine's frequent effects are irritability, aggressive behavior, anxiety, excitement, auditory hallucinations, and paranoia (delusions and psychosis). Abusers tend to be violent. Mood changes are common, and the abuser can rapidly change from friendly to hostile. The paranoia produced by methamphetamine use results in suspiciousness, hyperactive behavior, and dramatic mood swings.

 "Long-term meth use can lead to psychosis that mimics paranoid schizophrenia"
  - Dr. Richard Wise of Pathways Treatment Center

Methamphetamine appeals to drug abusers because it increases the body's metabolism and produces euphoria, increases alertness, and gives the abuser a sense of increased energy. High doses or chronic use of methamphetamine, however, increases nervousness, irritability, and paranoia. The extreme paranoia that methamphetamine abusers can experience is often associated with a distorted tendency toward violence. Adverse consequences of methamphetamine abuse include the risk of stroke, heart failure, and prolonged psychosis.


Traditionally associated with white, male, blue-collar workers, is now reportedly being used by diverse groups in all regions of the country.

Because methamphetamine use is spreading rapidly in the United States, knowledge of the drug, coupled with the ability to recognize the different patterns and stages of abuse, is becoming increasingly important to medical personnel and law enforcement officers.

Methamphetamine abuse has three patterns: low intensity, binge, and high intensity.

 Low-intensity abuse describes a user who is not psychologically addicted to the drug and who administers the drug by swallowing or snorting it. Binge and high-intensity abusers are psychologically addicted and prefer to smoke or inject methamphetamine to achieve a faster and stronger high. The binge and high-intensity patterns of abuse differ in the frequency in which the drug is abused. In addition, while the binge pattern of abuse has seven stages within its cycle-rush, high, binge, tweaking, crash, normal, and withdrawal-the high-intensity abuse pattern usually does not include a state of normalcy or withdrawal.

The most dangerous stage of methamphetamine abuse for abusers, medical personnel, and law enforcement officers is tweaking.

A methamphetamine abuser who is tweaking, has probably not slept in 3-15 days and, consequently, will be extremely irritable and paranoid. A tweaker does not need provocation to behave or react violently, but confrontation increases the chances of a violent reaction. If the tweaker is using alcohol, his negative feelings and associated dangers intensify. 


Compared with cocaine, which is metabolized rapidly in the body, methamphetamine is metabolized slowly; up to 2 days are required to eliminate a single dose. Rapidly absorbed when taken orally, the effects of the drug peak within 2 to 3 hours and are measurably effective in the body for up to 8 hours.


One of the main arguments in determining whether or not a substance is capable of producing physical addiction (dependence) is the ability to produce a withdrawal syndrome similar to that of narcotics and central nervous system depressants. Once it was discovered that each drug produces its own unique pattern of effects, more drugs then were identified as having addiction potential. Repeated use of high-dose methamphetamine produces such a pattern.

Several hours after the last use, the individual experiences a drastic drop in mood and energy levels. Sleep begins and may last for a long period and, upon awakening, severe depression exists that may last for days. While users are in this depressed state, suicide is a major concern. These symptoms occur after use and may be reversed by taking another dose of methamphetamine, thereby fitting the definition for a withdrawal syndrome.

increased alertness
sense of well-being
intense high
aggressive behavior
increased heart rate
extreme rise in body temperature (as high as 108 degrees which can cause brain damage and death) uncontrollable movements (twitching, jerking, etc...)
violent behavior
impaired speech
dry, itchy skin
premature aging
rotting teeth
loss of appetite
acne, sores

disturbed sleep
excessive excitation
excessive talking
moodiness and irritability
false sense of confidence and power
delusions of grandeur leading to aggressive behavior
uninterested in friends, sex, or food
aggressive and violent behavior
severe depression

fatal kidney and lung disorders
possible brain damage
disorganized lifestyle
permanent psychological problems
violent and aggressive behavior
weight loss
behavior resembling paranoid schizophrenia
decreased social life
poor coping abilities
disturbance of personality development
lowered resistance to illnesses
liver damage

Methamphetamines stimulate the central nervous system, and the effects may last anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. Like cocaine, it is a powerful "upper" that produces alertness, and elation, along with a variety of adverse reactions. After the effects of methamphetamine wears off, it can cause severe withdrawal that is more intense and longer lasting than both speed and cocaine. After the initial "rush," there is typically a state of high agitation that in some individuals can lead to violent behavior.

The effects are not only long lasting, but continue to cause damage to the user long after use has stopped.

Methamphetamine abuse can also lead to legal, financial, and social problems.

Addiction to methamphetamine can be very strong, therefore withdrawal symptoms are likely when use of the drug is discontinued.

severe craving
mental confusion